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New York’s Best Tables for One


We all eat alone.  Whether it be delivery on the couch or lunch at your desk, sometimes foodie calls aren’t an option.  You can’t always grab a friend every time you’re hungry.   Unless it’s a burger at the local bar, most people still don’t feel comfortable dining out alone.  Some of of the best restaurants in the city are near impossible to get into, but for a party of one, take that seat at the bar and enjoy the people watching .

By RG writer – Caitlin Decker

Cafe Ino

21 Bedford st (corner of Downing)

(212) 989-5769

Unlike the the majority of Jason and Jennifer Denton’s buzzing restaurants, this Greenwich Village eatery is a quaint escape from the stir of the city.   In true Denton style, there’s an impressive wine list and casual, yet creative Italian food.   Having been open more than a decade, Ino has become a neighborhood fixture where locals come to have a glass of wine at the bar and nibble on bruschetta topped with sweet peas and pecorino, nightly specials and favorites like panini piled with Italian sausage, butternut squash mustard, and arugula as well as marscapone bruschetta with fresh fruit.   You can also watch dinner being made from your barstool with a view into the kitchen.


Ramen Setagaya

141 1st Ave (at St Marks)

(212) 529-2740

In the slew of noodle joints on St Marks, the Japanese chain, Ramen Setagaya, is a
standout. The deep bowls of slippery and delicate shio ramen come loaded with
two slices of pork, bamboo shoots, seaweed, scallions, and the unforgettable
salt-taste egg. The egg is soft boiled with the flavors of soy and sake, and
the yolk still glassy, but not runny.
The attentive and ever-smiling wait staff never leaves the glass half
empty and since most of the space is communal tables and counter tops, its a
perfect spot for solo dining on a cold day and watching college kids stumble
out of tattoo shops across the street.



Waverly Place


congratulations are in order for a job well done, or you are licking your
wounds from getting dumped/fat/fired, Babbo is an excellent choice for the
self-indulgent night that you may need. Because the minds of Mario Batali and
Gina DePalma have stretched beyond the expected italian plates and provided
some of the most craved food in New York, Babbo has become one of the most
popular, and hard to get reservations around. But for you, solo diner, the
refuge of the bar provides a four star meal on a whim. I love the bar seats at
the Batali institution, and I love the spicy, flaky cheese straws that come
with that first glass of wine.
Another perk of Babbo is the long list of appetizers. The roasted beet
tartare with chianti vinegar and ricotta salata makes veggies drool-worthy and
the grilled octopus with “Borlotti Marinati” and spicy limoncello vinaigrette
is something I never miss. Ordering a few appetizers as a meal is great if you
are in the mood for variety, but if you need something more substantial for
your night, the goose liver ravioli with balsamic vinegar and brown butter is
sinfully decadent.  For something
truly unforgettable, try the fennel dusted sweetbreads with sweet and sour
onions, duck bacon and membrillo vinaigrette. The full menu is available at the
bar, and better yet, you won’t have to share a thing.



Thompson (b/w Prince and Spring)


is tiny. The Soho joint has about ten seats on a good day, assuming half of
them are models who tripped and fell out of a fashion magazine. But the staff
will squeeze you in, and help you make friends with your new lunch dates over
traditional greek dips, hot pitas dips, fresh soups and one of my favorite
spinach pies in the city. The lunch at Snack is simple and fresh, with great
sandwiches like the Lamb 1.3 with braised lamb, tomatoes, and roasted red
onions with a roasted tomato aioli, and arugula on ciabatta bread. For dinner,
gut-filling entrees like the Pastitsio (beef and macaroni casserole
seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce) are
the most tempting and do not disappoint.
The Thompson Street location lends its self to endless people watching
and all ingredients are super fresh, and the service quick, so its perfect for
a lunch date with yourself, or to wind down after work.



Spring St (at Crosby)


the relative empire of Keith Mc Nally, Balthazar and the adjoining Balthazar
bakery never fail to make life seem a little bit shinier, like your day has
been brushed with butter. Balthazar consistently serves some of the best
traditional french food in the city, but we are not the first to notice. An
impromptu dinner reservation can be hard to snag, and a party of one has a
better chance at that corner table. Balthazar is an all day place, with
according menus so your best chance of that seat is during off-hours (though
i’m not entirely sure they exist here). There is sort of a relaxed hustle to the
place, giving the feeling that everything is going right. Whether or not it is,
it surely seems that way. The moules frites (steamed mussels with french fries)
and duck confit with crispy potatoes, wild mushrooms and frisee salad both have
the distinctive flavors of a perfect meal along the Seine. I like a place that
does not pass judgement on a dinner order of french fries and champagne (not
that I would do that…last week), and Balthazar provides just that place.

The french cafe is an all day place, with
according menus. If it is something sweet you are craving, and don’t have the
time to sit down for your tarte tatin inside, head next door to the bakery
where the pieces of heaven, er, cake change daily and there is always an
abundance of freshly made decadence behind the glass.  It is a treat to find a table of your own and enjoy the
sights and smells of the the Soho landmark, and if you can’t make the commute
to Paris for the evening, it will make you feel as though you did.



Manhattan Ave (Corner of Driggs)


for its busy (but worth the wait) brunch, Enid’s in Williamsburg/Greenpoint is
casual and quirky (re: the glitter life-size camel on the wall). On the corner
of McCarren park, the Southern-inspired restaurant has space, big tables, and
is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to work, and by work I mean drink
coffee and eat pie. The generous slices of pie rival even your mothers and are
served hot with ice cream, are from Blue Stove bakery in Brooklyn and those
bottomless cups of Porto Rico coffee make cold and lonely days warmer.  If you really need an extra hop in your
step, Enid’s also boasts an impressive bloody mary and various other boozy
delights, and with all the company at the bar, it doesn’t count as drinking



Bedford Ave (at Lorimer)


the corner of Bedford and Lorimer, Five Leaves is always busy. Waiting for a
table here can take a while, and knowing that the house made ricotta with figs,
fresh thyme, honeycomb, maldon sea salt and fruit bread is waiting for you,
makes those minutes go by pretty slowly. As a lone diner, try to hide your
smirk as you slide past the mob of hungry hipsters and comfortably jump onto
your bar stool. The Australian-inspired menu is inventive and comforting and
the mussels steamed in saffron coconut milk and chilies and scallions are worth
a second bowl. If you are the mood for something hearty and belly-filling, they
organic lamb shepherd’s pie with honey roasted root vegetables sould do the
trick. And in case you do feel like company, the bartenders are friendly and
well versed in booze, always ready with suggestions and witty banter, making
your “alone time” a group activity.



9th Ave (Corner of 15th)


If you like food at all,
you have probably already been here. The Chelsea Market is home to everything
from thai food and brownies to fresh produce, seafood, cheese, baked goods
and…sigh…so much more. Its also one of the best places to go when you want
good food, fast, but not fast food. Enjoy your gluttony alone and Wander
through the market as a retreat on a cold day, as it is all inside. If you
don’t choose to eat at one of the restaurants and make your meal half sushi,
half baked ziti, half cupcake, there are tables and bar stools set up to
accommodate the binge. Things not to miss: The made to order lobster roll from
the Lobster Place, the marscapone gelato from the gelato spot, fresh burratta
from the italian wholesale shop-go to the back to get.

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